The tune-up track meet before Saturday’s Lithia Track and Field Invitational at Mazama was held Thursday at Viking Field.
Making sure he was ready for the large event of 34 high schools Saturday was Henley pole vaulter Zebulen Moeller.
Moeller has been the top pole vaulter at Henley for the last two years after former runner-up in the OSAA state competition, Boot Clark, graduated in 2017.
Moeller, ranked No. 7 in the state, won the pole vault Thursday against North Valley and Mazama athletes with his jump of 11 feet, six inches.
The mark was below his personal record of 12-6 but attempted the height of 12-9 and had a chance on one of his three tries.
The Henley junior first pole vaulted his freshman year, something that came unexpectedly.
“There was a sophomore at Mazama my freshman year and he was super excited and he came out and talked to me. The first day of pole vault practice, we had to clean a ton of water off the pit and so I had so much fun doing that with him,” Moeller said. “Pole vaulting then came really easy to me and I have not stopped since.”
It was not until the eighth grade that he even began to be involved with sports.
Moeller is a first generation track and field athlete.
He considers himself lucky after the misfortune of being born with club foot, a birth defect in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position.
As of now, his left calf is smaller than his right, something that caught the attention of classmates around him and led to people making fun of him.
“When I was younger, I was always the weird kid because I had one leg smaller than the other. I could not keep up and it always hurt me and held me back,” Moeller said. “I got over that barrier after my last surgery. I had kids make fun of me and it was my motivation.”
In all, he had three surgeries. His first came when he was 3 months old, the second at the age of 5 and the last when he was 11.
To add to his pain, the young Hornet broke his right foot on three different occasions when he was in middle school.
Achieving personal success has kept him busy after he was in and out of various foster homes since he was a freshman.
Moeller leaps off his right foot when he jumps and it has proved to help him in being currently the top pole vaulter in the Skyline Conference.
After his corrective surgeries, Moeller’s right leg is noticeably larger and stronger after he decided to avoid using a wheelchair.
“That is why my right foot is so much stronger. I had nothing to do with a wheelchair and said no and I was hopping on my right foot in the house and the fields in my farm,” Moeller said.
His freshman year after being ranked second in the conference, he did not place in the district tournament before he won the conference last year.
His new motivation is now to place in the state tournament after he failed to do so last season.
Moeller’s jumping has come along way.
After starting at eight feet, he made an improvement of three feet by the end of the season as a freshman.
He admits, the 16-1 school record at Henley by Clark is something he has his sights on.
After not having a coach last year, Oregon Tech All-American Seth Gretz has spent his time this year helping out Henley pole vaulters.
“April 25 of last year was the first time that I cleared 12 feet. It was not until two weeks ago that I had not cleared over that again and got 12-6. I jumped over 14 feet during a practice jump in Eugene earlier this year, so it is something I know I can do,” Moeller said. “When somebody sees me and they ask if I am the person to beat, I just show them my left foot. With pole vaulting, so much can go wrong … change in your run, step back too much or you are too far forward. I am just out here to do my best and hopefully, it is better than you.”